Splanchnic neural activity modulates ultradian and circadian rhythms in adrenocortical secretion in awake rats

M. S. Jasper, William C Engeland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


An ultradian rhythm in adrenal secretion of corticosterone has been described in awake rats using intra-adrenal microdialysis. To determine the role of the autonomic innervation of the adrenal on the expression of the corticosterone rhythm, adrenal extracellular fluid was sampled by intra-adrenal microdialysis in intact (CTRL) and splanchnicectomized (SPLNX) rats 5-7 h before (light period) and after dark onset (dark period). Experiments conducted 1, 2, or 5 days after surgical insertion of the microdialysis probe consisted of continuous collection of dialysate at intervals of 10 min. Time domain pulse detection using PC-PULSAR showed that 5 days after surgery, SPLNX-decreased interpulse interval (IPI) during the light period, but had no effect during the dark period, resulting in the loss of the diurnal rhythm in corticosterone secretion. Although diurnal modulation of both pulse amplitude and pulse frequency was observed, only the frequency was altered by SPLNX. In CTRL animals IPI increased at 5 days postsurgery, relative to 1 and 2 days, but the amplitude of normalized secretory pulses did not change. The decrease in IPI caused by SPLNX was observed 5 days, but not 1 or 2 days after surgery, suggesting that surgical stress obscures the inhibitory effect of splanchnic neural activity. Power spectral analysis showed significant periodicities in corticosterone secretion rate in individual CTRL and SPLNX animals at 1, 2, and 5 days. One day after surgery, SPLNX reduced the frequency of the ultradian rhythm detected by power spectral analysis. This finding suggests that splanchnic neural activity may increase pulse frequency in stressed rats, in opposition to the effect seen after extended recovery from surgery. In conclusion, our data suggest that the nadir of the diurnal rhythm in corticosterone secretion results in part from neural inhibitory control. Splanchnic neural innervation may also have an excitatory role in the adrenocortical stress response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994


  • ACTH
  • Adrenal cortex
  • Adrenal innervation
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Corticosterone
  • Microdialysis
  • Pulsatile secretion
  • Rat
  • Splanchnic nerve
  • Ultradian rhythm


Dive into the research topics of 'Splanchnic neural activity modulates ultradian and circadian rhythms in adrenocortical secretion in awake rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this